Sunderland family pays tribute to George Michael who funded trip to Lapland

George Michael
George Michael
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A Wearside family says they will always be grateful to George Michael for funding their trip-of-a-lifetime.

Following the pop icon's sudden death on Christmas Day at the age of 53, stories of his secret generosity have been hitting the headlines.

Lesley and Gordon Graham with their children, Ricky, Jessica and Lukas, and Lesley's twin sister, Sue Clark who put their names forward for the trip to Lapland.

Lesley and Gordon Graham with their children, Ricky, Jessica and Lukas, and Lesley's twin sister, Sue Clark who put their names forward for the trip to Lapland.

Reports have been flooding in of the singer donating millions of pounds to helping others, without recognition, and even helping in a homeless shelter.

One family who benefited from his kindness and who will always be grateful, is the Graham family from Sunderland.

Mum-of-three Lesley Graham, her husband, Gordon, and their three children, Ricky, 27, Jessica, 21 and 22-year-old Lukas, all enjoyed an all-expenses paid trip to Lapland 18 years ago after George Michael funded two planes full of families.

Lesley, 47, said her sister, Sue Clark, saw a piece on the former Richard and Judy Show, saying an anonymous benefactor wanted to pay for families with disabled or disadvantaged children to go on the trip.

Lapland trip reported in the Sunderland Echo.

Lapland trip reported in the Sunderland Echo.

Sue wrote in and nominated her nephew Ricky, who has Down's Syndrome and autism, as well as other health issues, to go on the trip and the whole family, including Sue, were chosen.

Lesley said: "We were told that George Michael had paid for it, but didn't want any publicity.

"We had an amazing time and it was so generous to give all those families the chance of this experience. It was something we could never have afforded and we have such treasured memories of it.

"I was really sad to hear the news of his death. I would have loved to have the opportunity to thank him in person and to let him know who much we really appreciated it.

Ricky Graham who enjoyed a trip to Lapland, paid for by George Michael.

Ricky Graham who enjoyed a trip to Lapland, paid for by George Michael.

"I think it is amazing that he did so much for others and didn't want the praise or recognition. There's a lot of celebrities won't do anything for free."

While in Lapland the Graham family got to ride in a sleigh across a frozen, candlelit lake to Santa's house to meet him.

Lesley said: "It really was magical, but we don't have any photographs because none to the cameras would work because it was so cold."